I tried to live without writing for a time, and happily, it failed miserably:
I had no relationship to myself, therefore none to anyone else. I had no reason for eyesight, nor much reason for insight. I became afraid of my physical voice. I lost my laugh. Time had no meaning, nor seasons, and I no longer had any way to gauge my growth. It didn’t matter whether I was in Peoria or Astoria, whether I was at work or I wasn’t, whether I was naked or clothed. I had no perspective. I had no body, because it didn’t have an interior. I no longer had emotions; also, I had emotions I had no idea what to do with. I couldn't stop useless thoughts or feelings like wanting, every morning, to kill the person who'd designed the city busses with the aisle too skinny for even one Pittsburgh-sized body, let alone another trying to pass it. I couldn’t love, because I couldn’t communicate; or perhaps because I no longer understood myself as separate from anything or anyone else around me. There was no “I.” Every day that I didn’t write, I hated instead. In time, I forgot why I hated.
It was like I had tried to forget what I knew, and this you cannot do. You can expand your point of view, you can change your mind completely, but you can’t wipe your mind clean for the sake of it. “What I knew” was that I had to write in order to live, or at least, to live as I would like to live.
I’m reminded of the Groucho Marx joke a friend told me, “I used to live in Pittsburgh once…if you call that living.” Which leads me to the W.C. Fields joke the same friend told me, “I spent a week in Philadelphia…one weekend.”